Nairobi, Dec 19 – Twenty-six elephants have reportedly died in unclear circumstances over the past three months in Kenya’s Maasai Mara National Reserve, a conservation group said in a report.

The report by the Mara Elephant Project (MEP) suggested that 11 of the elephants may have been poisoned.

However, following the keen media attention that the reported elephant deaths attracted, Marc Goss, the MEP CEO issued a press that appeared to play down the significance of MEP’s report.

“Recently, there have been misleading articles printed in the press regarding elephant deaths in the Mara and Mara Elephant Project wanted to set the record straight,” read the press release.

“In the last 3 months the statement directly indicating that 26 elephants have died as a result of poisoning is incorrect. Second, the statement that the elephant population in the Mara is declining is untrue.

“The population is in fact increasing according to recent census findings. Furthermore, MEP works very closely with Kenya Wildlife Service and Narok County Government to collect and harmonize Monitoring of Illegally Killed Elephants (MIKE) data quarterly.

‘Once this data is harmonized then it is released in a professional manner to the public. Working together, the KWS, NCG and MEP have recorded a decrease in the total number of elephant deaths in the Mara from 2012 to 2017. Lastly Mara Elephant Project regrets any uproar that has arisen from this and apologises,” the MEP press release added.